Updated: Oct 15, 2019
If I had to summarize what the fear of God is into one sentence, it would be “a man or woman who loves the Lord and hates evil.” The Bible even talks about this in Proverbs 8:13 (NIV), where it states, “to fear the LORD is to hate evil.”
From pulpits across America and the world today, the fear of God is a fading truth. Not many preachers take the time to discuss this essential part of the Christian faith because they fear man more than they fear God. When this position takes root in the heart of a preacher or a person, it can be extremely damning.
Suppose we use, for example, an earthly father. This dad has two kids, both sixteen and seventeen. His kids have no regard for what their father has to say. They go out partying, have a fake ID to go to the clubs and get drunk; they shoot up drugs and enjoy living “the good life”. “Live fast, die young” is the moto. Throughout this phase of their life, the father constantly tells them to stay away from this style of living. He says they are breaking the law and tells them that their actions and conduct are harmful and not good. He warns them that if they continue down this road, it is only going to end in ruin. The bright future that he sees within his kids slowly begins to evaporate. The father forewarns them that if they refuse to listen to his direction and instruction, then he will withdraw his funds towards their college tuition, and they will be on their own.
Regardless of the warning, the kids continue to do as they please because they lack the fear of their father (or, in Biblical understanding of fearing the Lord; they lack respect and reverence towards their father). A lack of fear towards their earthly father in fact is a lack of discipline within themselves. They believe they don’t have to listen to their father, who in fact knows what is best. They would rather fulfill selfish desires and temporary pleasures than to listen to the guidance and counsel of their earthly father. As a result of this, the father pulls his funds towards paying for their college. The kids rebelled and decided to live the lifestyle of partying and carnality, rather than listening to and obeying their father. In consequence the father, who was so gracious and willing to provide for his children, had to keep his word and allow them to endure the repercussions for the wrong decisions that they made.
This is very similar to the fear of the Lord. When discussing the fear of the Lord, it is important to understand that there are two sides which are congruent towards each other. Fear of the Lord is not only a reverence and awe of who God is, it is a holy mindset of apprehension and respect towards the truthful reality of what the Lord is capable of doing. The fear of the Lord is a healthy fear that keeps you on the right path towards obedience and, in result, produces blessing.
When you don’t possess the fear of God in your Christian walk, you open the doors to demonic delusion and deception. You begin to excuse sin and wrongdoing in your life. When Moses was speaking to the Israelites after they had witnessed God speaking to Moses about the Ten Commandments, Moses tells them ““Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning”” (Exodus 20:20 NIV). The fear of the Lord is to prevent us from sinning; but when we choose to uplift ourselves to the status of God Himself, we begin to believe that we can do that which pleases our flesh and suffer no real consequences. This is a frightening reality for many, and we need more preaching on the fear of the Lord.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NIV). God is able to unleash His wrath and judgment upon anyone at any time. He is an all-powerful God. Not only did He create the world and the very Universe in which our planet resides; He knows what is good and what is evil. He has full knowledge and understanding of what goes on in this world, and He has full authority to do as He pleases. Luke 12:4-5 (ESV) tells us yet again, ““Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!”” Yes, God is a loving God; but He is also a God of justice and wrath. We need to have a proper fear of the Lord in order to grow in our walk with the Lord; and Proverbs 9:10 (NIV) is sure to show us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
The greatest detriment in modern day Christianity is we don’t take time to think and meditate on Who God really is. We don’t take time to discuss the deep questions of life and purpose. We are too busy focusing on Evangelism, that we forget to Disciple. We need more men and women of God to rise up and ask the question: “Why are these topics not being addressed within my church? Who is my pastor at the core of his heart? Is he preaching everything I need to know? Or is there something lingering within his heart that is covered up by a phony grin and a corrupt charm?” These are the questions that must be asked when the tough truths are not being taught within one’s church.
Fear of the Lord appears eighteen times in Proverbs. One of my favorite verses regarding the fear of the Lord is Proverbs 16:6 (ESV), which states: “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.” What a beautiful verse with such a profound outlook on the Christian walk. We are to have steadfast love towards one another and God. We are to remain loyal and devoted with our faithfulness towards what Christ did on the Cross. Not only are we to do these things, we are to fear the Lord; and as we fear the Lord, we turn away from evil. We begin to unravel the hidden secrets that fear of the Lord:
Is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10)
Is where we find the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:5)
Adds length to our lives (Proverbs 10:27)
Helps us to walk uprightly (Proverbs 14:2)
Brings forth life and security (Proverbs 14:26-27)
Grows us in humility (Proverbs 15:33 & Proverbs 22:4)
Blesses us (Proverbs 28:14 & Psalms 115:13)
Provides mercy (Luke 1:50)
Is praiseworthy (Proverbs 31:30)
Brings friendship with the Lord (Psalm 25:14)
Gives us a hatred towards evil (Proverbs 8:13)
Turns us away from evil (Proverbs 16:6)
Fear of the Lord brings forth much promise, hope, wisdom and blessing. “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you” (Psalm 31:19 NIV). It is good to have a healthy fear of the Lord. He is worthy of reverence and praise. We should be in awe everyday of Who He is and what He has done. At the same time, we must have the comprehension and recognition that God is in full authority and He can do as He pleases.
In the words of Solomon, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 KJV). What will you and I see in our lives come Judgment Day? What will Heaven’s screen reveal? It will be revealed to us in time; and until then, may the fear of the Lord keep us on the right path to obeying Him and His commandments.